SOPHIE PARKER reviews UCOpera’s Libuše at the Bloomsbury Theatre. University College Opera masterfully presented the British premiere of Bedřich Smetana’s 1872 opera, Libuše, at the newly refurbished Bloomsbury Theatre. As is traditional for the company, the cast and orchestra both consisted of a mix of students and professionals, adding a professionalism which some other university performances may lack. It did, however, have the less fortunate secondary effect of making the students in business dress look a little like they were on a spring week placement, rather than the directors and board of an unnamed Big Four firm. Anyone even slightly familiar with Smetana’s opera might be wondering what corporate law has to do with Princess Libuše (Kirstin Sharpin) and her medieval court — and justifiably so. Under the direction of Cecilia Stinton, the UCOpera production brought the opera’s brotherly tension and monarchical politics into the modern day, with the Princess having inherited…Continue Reading

Libuše

MADDIE DUNN reviews Freak at the Bloomsbury Studio. UCL’s Viva La Vulva is a group consisting primarily of medical students who campaign to raise awareness of issues around women’s health. Could there be a better group (and group name!) than this to perform Anna Jordan’s Freak, a play which thoroughly and frankly questions female identity, sexuality and empowerment in the 21st century? Director Dr Pollyanna Cohen missed no opportunities, utilising the black-box studio to create an intimate setting which instantly alerted the audience to the heightened sexuality of the female image today: lingerie was strewn on the floor, a vibrator was placed conspicuously on the table downstage and, most strikingly, the back wall was plastered with posters of female models. Jordan’s two characters – 15-year-old Leah (Phoebe Garthwaite) and 30-year-old Georgie (Agnes Dromgoole)– were enveloped, both literally and metaphorically, by the societal tendency to place female value on being overtly…Continue Reading

Freak

THEA NOWELL reviews the UCL Societies Showcase Night at the Bloomsbury Theatre. First opening its doors in 1968 as the Central Collegiate Building Auditorium, The Bloomsbury Theatre has supported and showcased the best of UCL’s performing arts since its conception, working together with students and researchers to bring exciting talent and ground-breaking discoveries to the stage. Famous guests include UCL alumnus Ricky Gervais, and Adele. The theatre closed its doors in 2015 for a major renovation project, and now, having reopened last year, fifty years after its first performance, The Bloomsbury Theatre proudly marked its rebirth with a showcase from ten of UCL’s performing arts societies. The showcase celebrated Bloomsbury Theatre’s official relaunch, honouring the relationship between the university and the theatre. Organised and directed by George W.X. Barker and hosted by Rare FM’s Caycee Peskett-Hill and Stage Crew’s Vojta Smekal, the showcase was the perfect opportunity for UCL’s societies…Continue Reading

Societies Showcase Night

OLIVIA DALEY reviews UCL Drama Society’s Saint Joan at Bloomsbury Theatre. George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan tells the notorious story of Joan of Arc’s triumph and subsequent persecution in the 15th century, and UCL Drama Society’s own adaptation was a radically original slant on the often-produced play. Detaching it from its specific historical context and universalising the subject-matter by adding modern touches and not giving specific focus to the time period, the production allowed reflection for the significance of the heroine’s story in its day while simultaneously demonstrating its relevance to our contemporary era. The production team made several effective choices to achieve this: most notably, the casting of women as male characters in positions of power leaves an impression, making more potent the thread that runs throughout Shaw’s play of the blurred nature between good and evil, innocence and culpability. It is not man against woman or England against France, instead,…Continue Reading

Saint Joan